There are only a few ways to make money online:
- Creating sites that promote someone else’s products (via affiliate programs), which I’ve had pretty good success with.
- Creating informational sites that earn with advertising — my bread and butter, and something I’ve been doing a lot more of lately (see my recent post about building passive income with AdSense sites)
- Creating your own product and selling it directly to consumers (and allowing affiliates to promote it)
Lots of experts will tell you that this third option is a great way to create real wealth online, but it’s one I’ve never really tried my hand at… until now.
I’m obviously not an expert at product launches, but I have learned a lot in prepping for the release of CTR Theme (my high click-through rate AdSense theme and ad management system). This post will highlight what I’ve learned as I get ready to start promoting the product heavily.
Create a Product that Solves a Problem (or two)
In my case, this was easy — I didn’t set out to build a “product.” I set out to solve my own problem. I wanted a theme that would automatically do all the things necessary for me to get a high clickthrough rate on the AdSense sites I’ve been building. I also wanted it to be SUPER easy to implement so I could spend less time actually building out my sites.
By the time I had finished my own theme, I realized I had a product that other people could use. Let’s face it, everyone building AdSense sites has the same three basic problems:
- They want to get more people to click on the ads on the sites they have
- They want to build more sites more quickly (so they can earn more)
- They want to drive more traffic to their sites (so they can earn more)
My theme solved problems 1 and 2 quite easily, but problem 3 is still a big one. I didn’t want to build a product that only partially set people up for success, so I set out to solve problem 3 as well.
I already have a lot of SEO knowledge and experience, and in launching my own AdSense sites, I came up with a link building strategy that works really well for niche sites. I put that together in a 40 page ebook that I include as a bonus product.
The resulting product is an “all-in-one” solution for people looking to make money with AdSense. I know it works, because I’ve used it myself, and I’m committed to making it better by incorporating features requested by real users.
Test Your Landing Page to Increase Conversions
I like to think that I’m pretty smart about what sells and what doesn’t. I’ve seen enough sales pages and analytics data to have a feel for what turns browsers into buyers… but I’ve also seen enough to know that your gut can be wrong. There’s really no point in *hoping* that you have the optimal combination of graphics and copy to convert visitors when you can test it and let the market tell you what works.
That’s why I made it a priority right away to implement Google’s Website Optimizer. I’m using optimizer to test different headlines and buy button text right now to get a good feel for what converts at the highest level.
I don’t need to test certain things — I know that social proof helps products sell, so I’ve got testimonials and personal use stories on the page. I know that a product demo works, so I’ve added a demo video showcasing the back-end control panel. I also know that money-back guarantees are effective, so I’m prominently featuring one (that I stand behind completely).
Put everything in place that you know you need, then test all the other stuff.
Get People to Test It Before You Sell a Ton of Copies
If you’re releasing an ebook, this is pretty easy — basically just get someone to proofread it and verify that all the links work. My situation was a lot more complex — I’m releasing a WordPress theme and ad management system that could be deployed on a lot of different hosting configurations.
Since I build all my sites the same way and put them on the same hosting configuration, I couldn’t possibly find all the bugs that could be encountered. That’s why it’s important to have a group of “early adopters” who can help spot some of the problems your buyers might run into.
My chosen test group spotted a few bugs that needed to be fixed, and I’m definitely glad they did, because I would have hated to go to market with those flaws in the product.
Provide Fanatical Support
Since there’s no guarantee that my selected test group was going to find all the bugs, it’s increasingly important that I provide exceptional support after the sale to people who buy my theme. I’ve bought products in the past that I needed support on — when I got great support, it seriously increased the likelihood that I’d tell others about the product.
In fact, while prepping this product for launch, I ran into an issue with getting setup as a vendor at Clickbank. I could have easily gotten frustrated and selected a different marketplace for my product — instead, I contacted their support team, and they got everything straightened out for me. I was so thrilled with their support that I would highly recommend them to other folks looking to launch a product.
Beyond that, listening to (and responding to) support tickets is also a great way to identify missing features. Originally, CTR Theme didn’t feature built-in SEO components or layout-based channel tracking. Those were feature requests from early adopters. Answering support requests also helped me to find some bugs that occurred for people using CTR Theme in ways I didn’t exactly expect.
Make It Easy for Affiliates to Sell
Now we’re past a lot of the “nuts and bolts” stuff about creating a product and getting into the actual marketing of it. For CTR Theme, my goal was to make it easy for people to become affiliates and incredibly attractive for them to do so.
I chose to sell my product through Clickbank because of the number of affiliates the provide access to. Becoming an affiliate for my product is as easy as adding your Clickbank ID in my hoplink structure.
I also decided to start off by offering a HUGE commission (75%) to entice affiliates to promote my product. Then, I went a step further and put $20k in prizes up for grabs for the product launch. Beyond that, I setup a page devoted to affiliates, explaining my commission structure, how they can create links to my product, the contest information, and some graphics they can use to link to my site.
I’ve already had a number of affiliate sales, and I haven’t even started targeting them aggressively yet. In March, I expect the number of affiliate sales to jump significantly.
Add Testimonials as They Come In
Social proof is HUGELY important in selling products online. I’ve started off with a few testimonials from my initial testers and early purchasers, but I’m definitely looking to add more as I get more people to try out the theme.
The key for me was to get a few in place and launch — I’m not going to wait around until I can land the perfect endorsement before I launch the product. A quality product, which is what I built, will have no problem picking up endorsements as usage grows.
Make the Sales Page Clear
One of the most frequent questions I was getting asked about CTR Theme in pre-launch (February) was whether or not the theme could be installed on multiple sites. The idea behind the theme was to make it easy for people to build an army of AdSense sites that all get solid CTRs — so to me, it was implied that the theme came with an unlimited use license. Turns out, a lot of potential users had no idea that this was the case.
What Do You Think?
These are the tips I’ve come up with as I’ve prepared to launch my first product. I’m really excited about its potential and hope that it does some serious sales in March. What do you guys think of the product and my approach to launching / promoting it? What have you done to ensure success in your product launches in the past?